Will Aircraft Design Warm To Global Warming?
British researchers say they have the answer to minimize the impact of air travel on global warming. Imperial College scientists say contrails should be a major consideration in determining the environmental factors at play as air travel increases by up to 5 percent a year. The council wants aircraft manufacturers to design planes that can fly lower but still burn the same amount of fuel or less than if they fly at the higher contrail-producing altitudes. They're even suggesting onboard sensing devices be installed on aircraft to alert pilots when they're creating that big plume of vapor. The scientists say contrails are currently overlooked as environmental hazards and that needs to be fixed. Even though lower-flying aircraft use more fuel and therefore create more emissions, the Imperial College professors say there's less environmental damage done that way. A Wisconsin climatologist's work seems to back that up. David Travis found that on the two days after 9/11 when all flights in the U.S. were grounded, there were larger temperature fluctuations at ground level. The contrails act like a blanket, dampening the fluctuations all over the country. However, other scientists say air travel has a minimal impact on climate compared to industry, vehicles and power plants.